On the Market: Historic Bella Vista home for $1.2 million

The 1860s Bella Vista home is on the market for $1.2 million.

On the Market profiles homes for sale in the Philadelphia region.

Philadelphia natives Daniel McGowan and Barbara Ross had lived in the city their entire lives, and several years ago, the couple found a home in Bella Vista that was unlike any other home they had seen.

Located on 10th Street right off Catherine Street, the 3,834-square-foot row home built in the 1860s needed considerable work, but it was a property the couple couldn’t pass up.

“These properties rarely come up for sale,” McGowan said. “There are only so many of these great houses in Bella Vista. We loved all of the Victorian built-ins.”

The timing was perfect for McGowan and Ross, who at the time were living next door at their place of business, the Bella Vista Bed and Breakfast.

“We needed more space and had to be close to our business because it was 24/7,” McGowan said.

Their business of 10 years was booming, and as antique lovers – they had a long-running antique store a few blocks away prior to starting the bed and breakfast – they loved all of the old features offered in the home: the glass chandeliers, French doors, antique tile floors, floor-to-ceiling Victorian pier mirrors, among other details.

So McGowan and Ross purchased the home in 2009 as only the fifth homeowners in more than a century-and-a-half, and immediately started making it their own.

“We had to do everything,” McGowan said. “It was very old-fashioned and dated.”

Several years and about $350,000 later, the home, described in the listing as an “antique lover’s dream,” was completely restored.

However, one of the rooms that needed minimal work was the living room, which McGowan says looks close to what it looked like when it was built.

“The main feature that sold us was the living room,” he said. “It’s so gorgeous and original. It’s completely original Victorian.”

Some of the original details in the room, which is the first room a visitor sees when entering the home, are inlaid oak hardwood floors, crown moldings, and two floor-to-ceiling Victorian pier mirrors with a marble base.

Many other original features, such as the doors and crown moldings, can be found throughout the home. All of the floors, except those in the attic, are original, including oak hardwood, wide plank pine, and oak parquet.

One of the rooms that underwent a major transformation is the master bedroom, which was a ballroom when it was built. McGowan and Ross opened up the room, and added in a gas fireplace and antique mantle in the sitting area.

In the master bath, they added a walk-in closet and dressing room with a washer and dryer, art deco glass doors, a glass-tile walk-in shower, and double hand-painted flower sinks.

In total, they added five bathrooms – one for every bedroom. Four of the bathrooms have whirlpool tubs.

The kitchen – the most modern looking room in the home – was redone recently. McGowan said he and his wife spent around $80,000 on the space, which was three separate rooms in the back of the first floor when they arrived.

They modernized the kitchen and added in all new appliances, a large island, and a “smart” refrigerator which has many of the capabilities of a smart phone, such as playing Pandora and searching the Web.

In the location of the original kitchen, the couple put in a spa room that has a hot tub overlooking the garden.

Some of the antiques they brought into the home are a phone that was owned by late Brazilian singer Carmen Miranda and an 1860s thermometer.

The home also has a roof deck with Center City skyline views from the attic.

After five years in the home, the couple has decided to put the home on the market for $1.2 million because they’re at an age where they’re looking to do more traveling. But they will still be in town with their business right next door.

“I’ve lived in the area since 1980 and have watched the many changes and improvements from the addition of Super Fresh and then Whole Foods,” McGowan said. “It’s a great family neighborhood; very walkable and very low crime. People try to take care of their properties here.”

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